SINCE his big break playing rough-and-ready DS Ray Carling in Life on Mars and follow-up Ashes to Ashes, former club singer Dean Andrews has carved out a TV career on the likes of Last Tango in Halifax and, more recently, playing soap bad boy Will Taylor in Emmerdale. With filming suspended, the Rotherham actor was free for a catch-up with Michael Upton about his soap family, life in lockdown and his taste in television.
Hi, Dean, What have you been up to today?
I got out on my bike this morning and did 50 miles. I’m trying to get out as much as I can and do some miles. That keeps me sane.
I usually go out with a bunch of mates. When you're riding with your mates you stop at a cafe and have a chat so when you go out on your own it's awful.
We can at least go out in twos now so long as we keep our distance so from a social point of view it feels a little better.
The last time we spoke you were about to go into Emmerdale. How have you enjoyed soap life — and how frustrating was it when they pulled the plug?
As we finished I was part of a big story line and we were in for 12-hour days. You finish at 6.30pm and have 18 pages to learn for the next day.
We had a bit of a gut sense that we were not going to be able to stay there and as it turned out we just packed up filming one day — it was like going from hero to zero.
Emmerdale is now on three nights a week instead of five. When do you think you might be able to get back on set?
I see as much as most people in the newspapers and we got the odd email saying we are trying to get the soaps back, as it helps with morale, hopefully some time in June.
If you’re part of a big storyline it’s good to get that kind of continuity as you are in the role and have those feelings close to the surface but at the end of the day we are actors and we will get back into the story line and pick it up. It's not too bad — it’s not exactly rocket science.
What was it like working with your soap family, Kathryn Dow Blyton (who plays Harriet) and Olivia Bromley (Dawn Taylor) ?
It couldn’t have worked out better for me than being with two those ladies. They are both lovely people to work with and really good actors.
Actors are charismatic people and we all love to show off. We all like a laugh.
You weren’t in the latest series of Last Tango in Halifax, which was broadcast earlier this year. What happened there — and might you return in future?
Because I was going into Emmerdale I just had to say no at this point. I feel a loyalty to Emmerdale as they put themselves forward and asked me rather than me having to audition.
I think I watched the first two episodes (of Last Tango) and I think I was getting into the Emmerdale storyline. The dynamic of the show — it’s not something that if I hadn’t been in it I would set the record for.
My tastes are different from that kind of Sunday night drama. I would come back if there was a nice storyline.
I loved working with Nicola (Walker, who plays farmer Gillian), she’s a joy, but I think the only storyline they could do is tie up the death of (my character) Robbie’s brother.
Nicola is the same as me, we are both untrained actors and both give gut reactions.
You recently took part in the Life on Mars Live “watch party”. How pleased are you people still love Ray Carling — and are you excited writer Matthew Graham has said a new series is in the pipeline?
It is a great piece of work and a great ensemble. Ray has always had a hardcore fanbase that understand him really.
They (the writers) had spoken to me a bit before they announced it that they were writing the “in between” years and asked if I would be willing to come back.
I gave the usual answer that “Oh my dog, that would be amazing” — I love the boys (co-stars John Simm, Philip Glenister and Marshall Lancaster), I really do.
It was a once in a lifetime role and the highlight of my career and all our careers.
I spoke to Phil a couple of weeks ago and he would be on board by the sound of it.
It is all down to John and it started off with him saying he would like to revisit it.
How are you spending your days in lockdown?
I go out on my bike and that gets me to about 1pm and just potter about really. I love going on YouTube and doing a lot of cooking, Gordon Ramsay has these ten-minute recipes.
There are no scripts to work on for Emmerdale because these scripts we had before are all going to be unusable because of social distancing.
We can’t fight, kiss or touch any more as we can't go within two metres of anyone. The way we work is going to have to change.
I’m living with my partner Helen, her daughter and son in law and our three dogs. The dogs are hiding in a corner because everyone wants to walk them all the time.
You’re the narrator of the Channel 5 show Casualty 24/7. What was that like to work on?
It gives a great insight into how caring these people are and how they are there for people at their most vulnerable.
When you are narrating you can get so involved in them. I did a couple where the people had passed away and it was really difficult.
But it’s great that they are getting the exposure.
You say Sunday night drama isn’t your TV choice — what do you go for instead?
I love documentaries. I loved Sunderland Til I Die and Maradona in Mexico on Netflix. I don’t really enjoy drama because I can see the nuts and bolts. I am also a big UFC fan so I’ve been catching up with a lot of MMA (mixed martial arts).
Could you be an MMA fighter? You’re best known as a hard man.
(Laughing) I’m not a hard man! I thoroughly enjoy it and I’m a great admirer of their skill...but they get punched in the face — I’m not up for that!
See Dean Andrews in Emmerdale on ITV and hear his voice on Casualty 24/7 on Channel 5 at 9pm on Wednesdays. He is also the subject of this week’s My First Car in Advertiser Motors.